The Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program was renewed through May 2015. This program allows certain branches of the U.S. military to hire legal non-immigrants, such as international students, with specialized skills. This could lead to directly earning U.S. citizenship.
For foreign nationals to earn U.S. citizenship, first they have to obtain permanent resident status. With the MAVNI program, this is the opportunity to skip right to the citizenship!
This is a pilot program, meaning it’s being tested and not permanent as of right now. Each year it is decided to renew the program or not. Fortunately, it was renewed through September 2016.
The U.S. military branches of the Army, Navy, and Air Force are looking for people with specialized skills, such as:
- experts in language with associated cultural backgrounds
Many international students provide the specialized skill of language and cultural backgrounds. The program is looking for people who are fluent in one of the following languages:
Individuals must be able to demonstrate language proficiency in one of these languages, as well as English.
Individuals looking to apply under this category of being an expert in a language would have to enlist in the U.S. military for four years.
1. You must be in one of the following categories
- asylee, refugee, Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
- non-immigrant categories: E, F, H, I, J, K, L, M, O, P, Q, R, S, T, TC, TD, TN, U, or V
2. You must have been in valid status in one of the above categories for at least two years immediately prior to the enlistment date. It doesn’t have to be in the same category. So in other words, you have to be on a legal non-immigrant status for at least two years before enlisting.
3. Within those two years on being on a non-immigrant visa, you must not have had any single absence from the United States of more than 90 days.
4. You are still eligible to apply even if you have a pending application for adjustment of status to permanent residence. This is the case for many H-1B workers who are filing for permanent residency through employment.
How to Apply
Applicants will have to go through background checks, security screenings, and meet all the other general requirements of becoming a U.S. citizen.
You will have to share your passport, I-94 card, I-797 form, your employment authorization document, or other government issued documents proving your legal presence in the United States.
You can visit a local military branch office to apply or request more information online:
Simranpreet Lamba,29, is one of a few Sikhs serving in the U.S. Army. He gained exemption allowing him to keep his beard and wear a camouflage turban. He enlisted through the MANVI program and became a naturalized U.S. citizen. Read more about him here. Photograph courtesy of www.thenewstribune.com